Law Office of Paul Black - December 2018

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December 2018

THE GIFT OF CLARITY A Difficult Chat That Can Make a Difference

S easons greetings from all of us at the firm! We hope your December has been filled with joy and the comfort of your loved ones. Since so much of the holiday season focuses on giving, I wanted to spend some time discussing one of the most important gifts you can give your family: the gift of clarity that comes with making your health care directives known. I know it is a difficult conversation to have. But believe me when I say that families who have these conversations early fair far better than those who wait. Having a beloved parent or grandparent lose their ability to make their own health decisions is a hard enough emotional experience as it is. Confusion over your arrangements can lead to bitter infighting and crushing doubt among your loved ones. Certainty that your wishes are being carried out gives the people who care about you peace of mind in an otherwise difficult time. This all goes back to something I tell the people I work with all the time: Your people are your plan . As much as getting your estate in order can feel like paperwork, the truth is that there are people behind each and every one of those decisions you make. Beyond simply transferring your assets, the best estate plans are about peace of mind, giving the people you care about the comfort that your last wishes were respected. Of course, this does not make this kind of conversation any easier to have. The best advice I can give about discussing your health care directives is to find the communication style that suits you and your family. I have had clients who write letters to their adult children and others who prefer an in-person chat. You might choose to talk to loved ones individually or make your wishes known in a group

setting. My own grandmother reiterated her directives to our family every Christmas. Sitting around her dining room table, she told us exactly what to do should she ever be placed on life support. “Just let me meet my maker,” she would say. While it is important to have these conversations with family, you do not need to bring a lawyer into the mix. You can fill out your advanced health care directive form on your own. In fact, these forms can be found online, free of charge. You can visit aging. georgia.gov/documents/georgia-advance-directive-health-care and download a PDF that includes information about advanced health care directives in our state as well as the necessary forms to complete your own directive. Of course, after you fill out this form, it is important to tell your loved ones that it exists, and let them know where to find it in case of an emergency. Having seen the difference these conversations can make in putting loved ones at ease, I really do think they comprise the greatest gift you could give this time of year. The peace of mind that clarity brings can be a huge weight off the shoulders of the people who are closest to you. Please, even if the need for an advanced health care directive feels far away, consider taking action now. One hard conversation today can save your loved ones from many difficult ones down the road.

Here is to all the ways we can show our love this holiday season,

-Paul Black

Do you have estate planning or elder law-related questions? Write to me at paul@georgia-estatelaw.com with Asked and Answered in the subject line. Your identity will be kept confidential. The opinions offered in this column are not intended to replace or substitute any financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice.

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STOP DONATING TO SCAMMERS How to Spot Fraud This Holiday Season

During the season of giving, charities receive a much-needed rush of donations as people open their hearts to others. Unfortunately, criminals are all too willing to abuse this goodwill. According to a report from the Justice Department, Americans over the age of 60 lose over $3 billion a year to scams and fraudsters. As charity scams reach their peak, here is what you need to do to ensure your donations are not lining the pockets of criminals.

ONLY GIVE TO REPUTABLE CHARITIES. Do some research before donating to charities. Look up any prospective charity on Charity Navigator at CharityNavigator. org. This service flags “high concern” organizations suspected of fraud and ranks how reliable established charities are. Even legitimate organizations can be misleading about how they spend their donations. A good rule of thumb is to avoid organizations that spend more than 25 percent of donations on salaries or administrative costs. There are many amazing charities and organizations that do good work. Stay vigilant to make sure you are bringing joy to the world and not falling for a criminal looking to make a quick buck.

NEVER GIVE BY PHONE OR EMAIL. Charities regularly reach out to past and potential donors through traditional mail, email, phone calls, or text messages. This means fraudsters will mimic their approach with less noble intentions. Because it is impossible to determine who is on the other end of a call or email, you should never hand over your credit card information to strangers. If you really are speaking to a representative from a legitimate charity, they will direct you to a secure avenue where you can give without worry.

FEELING PRESSURED? WALK AWAY. A lot of charities set goals they want to reach before the new year, but even groups that are hoping to raise a certain amount of money know better than to pressure donors into giving. Donations should always come from the heart, and it is a bad sign if someone insists there is a deadline for giving. As the Better Business Bureau says, “Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.”

Asked and Answered: A Legal Advice Column

Dear Paul:

Dear SOS,

Amazon) that is easily programmed to block unwanted phone calls. In contrast, the “hard way” would be paved with your aunt’s denial of her vulnerabilities and her steadfast refusal to allow others to save her from her own poor money decisions. If she resists efforts to execute any basic estate and incapacity planning documents, continues to send money to all manner of strangers making impossible promises, and “lends” money to borrowers who will never pay her back, you may find yourself in the common but unenviable position of having to evaluate whether it is time to file for conservatorship (in which you ask the probate court for permission to manage her financial decisions). This process is not easy. Or cheap. Or enjoyable. If the court is convinced that your aunt is no longer capable of making financial decisions, you can then pursue the above-detailed protective measures.

My aunt is childless and in her 80s, and her husband died suddenly a year ago. My husband and I go to visit at her home every Sunday afternoon. She still eats well and seems to be doing well physically, but her judgment about money was never the best. She is always generous and often gullible. We are increasingly concerned that she is socially isolated and that she is vulnerable to all sorts of scammers. Her mailbox is filled with foreign sweepstakes offers asking for processing fees to claim her winnings. Her voicemail is full of strangers making impossible promises of millions of dollars in exchange for “processing fees” of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Lastly, she has a hard-luck-story neighbor to whom she has lent about $2,000, who we do not think she will ever see again. What are our options for protecting her?

At the risk of oversimplifying things, there are two potential paths forward in this situation: the easy way and the hard way. Let’s look at both. The easiest way forward would involve your aunt acknowledging that she is vulnerable and being willing to work with you on getting a rock-solid plan in place. If she does not have a financial power of attorney and advance directive for health care in place, these documents will be essential to empower you or others she trusts to help make decisions about her finances and her health care. A well-drafted financial POA often includes a provision allowing you to manage her mail so that you can filter out scam mail before she receives it. So long as your aunt retains capacity and can speak her mind, however, you will need to get permission before you filter her mail. With her permission, you can also install a call blocker (about $80 on

–Sleepless Outside Savannah (aka “SOS”)

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HEALTHY FOOD FAUX PAS Misleading Ingredients You Should Avoid

Instagram models and fitness specialists flood social media feeds with nutrition tips and tricks, but amid the blur of muscled selfies and misguided dieting advertisements, it is hard to determine what is actually healthy. Arm yourself with the following knowledge about tricky food ingredients, and always question diet fads blasted on social media. DEVIOUS DRINKS There is actually no scientific evidence to suggest “performance- enhancing” drinks will make you a better athlete. If you drink sports drinks regularly, you are actually filling your body with unnecessary sugars and additives. Furthermore, common fruit juices contain a lot of sugar, and skim or fat-free milk contains additives that eliminate the full feeling whole milk provides you. SNEAKY SNACKS Food marketing labels use the latest diet trends to twist consumers into thinking they are making smart choices

simply because something is labeled “organic” or “low-fat.” Next time you are shopping for a quick snack, be mindful when grabbing trail mix, yogurt, granola, microwave popcorn, or protein bars. These items are often falsely advertised as healthy options, and while they may contain some nutrients, most people do not adhere to the listed serving size. When you eat more than recommended, you could be offsetting the nutritional benefits. LETTUCE LIARS Yes, even salads can be misleading when it comes to dieting. Salad dressing is a yummy way to make a salad more exciting, but it should be doled out in limited quantities. Unfortunately, most prepackaged salads do not limit dressing portions. A pool of ranch dressing over lettuce will limit the benefits you will get from the healthy greens. Additionally, nuts, cheeses, and seeds can be healthy and tasty on your salad, but they should also be eaten in moderation.

DINNERTIME DECEPTION Your California roll may be hiding more than you think. Sushi is usually rolled in sugar-loaded and carbohydrate- heavy white rice. Aside from the white rice, the more intricate rolls often include toppings and condiments best savored in moderation. If you think you can avoid fried and greasy options by ordering a veggie burger, think again. These meat alternatives often contain another unhealthy dose of rice and are fried or baked in processed oils. While this information may send you into a panic about finding healthy foods, remember to stick to natural, low-additive foods, monitor your portion sizes, and create homemade alternatives to some of your favorites. You do not have to compromise on taste to get the most nutrition out of your meals. Try cooking your favorite foods from scratch and avoid the consequences of misleading ingredients.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP 30-Minute

Inspirational Moment

INGREDIENTS

1 small head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cored and sliced

• • • • • • • •

1 leek, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter into warm oil. Add onion and leek, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 10–12 minutes. 2. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cauliflower, broth, and cream. Simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes. 3. Using a blender, purée in batches until smooth. 4. Top servings with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of pepper.

Inspired by Good Housekeeping

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Decatur Office Location: Main Location One West Court Square, Suite 750 | Decatur, Georgia 30030

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

Give Your Family the Gift of Clarity

1

2

Scammed for the Holidays

Asked and Answered

3

Misleading Foods to Avoid

30-Minute Cauliflower Soup

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Hiking Yonah Mountain

GEORGIA TRAVELS

HIKING YONAH MOUNTAIN Fall in Love With This Historic Trail

I recently had the pleasure of hiking Yonah Mountain just outside Cleveland, Georgia. The trail was more difficult than I expected it to be (I would definitely recommend trekking poles), but the sweeping views and majesty of the mountain were more than worth it. In fact, making the journey is a great chance to connect with an incredible part of Georgia.

the first woman to conquer the Appalachian Trail solo in a single season. I recently finished reading Gatewood’s inspiring story in Ben Montgomery’s biography, “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk,” and I wanted to see this famous trailhead for myself. Let me tell you, Grandma Gatewood must have been in very good shape. The Yonah trail is rocky, and it is very steep in spots. In fact, the Army Rangers frequently use it to condition troops for mountain operations. The official trailheads may say “moderate,” but you will want to bring a first-aid kit on this one, just in case. Thankfully, Yonah is not the type of hike to make you wait on the scenery. The upper half of the trail features scenic vistas of the surrounding landscape, making the journey its own reward. For those into more extreme thrills, there are also prominent rock-climbing spots along the way. If you are a hiking enthusiast and have not made it out to this famous trail, I cannot recommend it enough. It is a great challenge with a beautiful view.

Rising 3,166 feet above sea level, this mountain offers a 360-degree view of a landscape in transition. Yonah towers above the southern Appalachian foothills and the lakes and pastures of northeast Georgia, making it a true bridge between worlds. In fact, it was from this mountain trail that one of the most famous hikers in American history began her journey. Yonah used to be the southern mouth of the Appalachian trail, and it was from this point that Emma “Grandma” Gatewood set out on her 2,000-plus-mile “lark” in 1955. This 67-year- old tobacco farmer and mother of 11 would become

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